Steps of Litigation
All civil lawsuits follow the same procedural rules, regardless of the specific subject matter of the case. Ford, Parshall & Baker attorneys have extensive trial and litigation experience with civil cases in both state and federal court. We work closely with our clients through every step of the litigation process to explain strategy, timelines, and likely outcomes.
- The initial consultation: You should bring all documents and information you have on the matter at issue in the case, including photographs, drawings, emails, file folders, notes, calendars, letters, et cetera. This should include all paper and electronic or computer files. Please do not leave out anything, even if you think it is irrelevant or not necessary. Our role is to filter information and determine what is relevant. If at any time during the case you find any type of document or other information that may be related to the case, you should contact your Ford, Parshall & Baker attorney right away about the information you found.
Your Ford, Parshall & Baker attorney will thoroughly discuss the matter with you at the initial meeting, but may have additional questions later. Try to be as prompt as possible in responding to messages from your attorney as procedural deadlines are often in place.
- Filing a lawsuit or a response: Depending on your role in the case, we may file an original lawsuit (called a petition or a complaint) or file an answer or other response to the petition against you.
- The discovery process: The discovery process begins after a lawsuit has been filed. During discovery, each party "discovers" or learns what the other party knows about the case by requesting specific documents, answers to written questions, and answers under oath in depositions. Discovery can continue for a period of months and, in complex cases, may take more than a year to finish.
The written discovery phase may include interrogatories, requests for production of documents and admission requests. Your Ford, Parshall & Baker attorney will help you throughout this process. You will likely be asked to provide answers to written questions called interrogatories. You may need to respond to requests for admissions about certain facts at issue in the case. You may also be asked to provide documents in response to a party's request for production of documents. As noted above, it is important to provide your attorney with all the documents you have, including the documents you think are not important.
The deposition phase of discovery usually begins after the written discovery phase, but sometimes these phases overlap. A party to a civil lawsuit is required to appear for his or her deposition to testify under oath as to the facts of the case. Your FPB attorney will help you prepare for your deposition and be at the deposition with you. Witnesses who are not parties may also be deposed.
- Settlement negotiations: As discovery proceeds, so do settlement negotiations. Only a very small percentage of civil lawsuits actually go to trial. Ford, Parshall & Baker lawyers are skilled negotiators who know how to use the information collected during discovery to reach an acceptable resolution
to the matter.
- Summary judgment: In some cases where there is no factual dispute, attorneys may file summary judgment motions asking the judge to dismiss the case or make a final ruling without a complete trial.
- Trial: In the unlikely event settlement negotiations fail, our experienced trial attorneys continue to carry the case through to a resolution via a trial by jury or in front of a state or federal judge.
The experience to handle your civil litigation needs
For more information about our law firm, our history, our list of representative clients or to make an appointment, contact Ford, Parshall & Baker today.